When Did Higher Education Begin?



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The oldest institutions of higher (college or university) education were started on the island of Cos, Greece, in about the sixth century B.C. These schools primarily taught medicine but also covered topics concerning the nature of humanity and the universe. A group called the Pythagoreans, who were followers of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras (c. 580–500 B.C.), started the first schools of higher education in Italy. They taught philosophy and math in Greek. The great Greek philosophers Socrates (470–399 B.C.), Plato (c. 428–348 B.C.), and Aristotle (384–322 B.C.) carried on this tradition. Universities also have a long history in the Arab world. For example, one of the oldest universities in the world is the Alazhar University in Cairo, Egypt, which was founded in about A.D. 970.

Further Information: Knowles, Ada S. The International Encyclopedia of Higher Education. San Francisco, Calf.: Jossey-Bass, 1977; Pelikan, Jarosnov. The Idea of the University: A Reexamination. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992; Pythagoras. [Online] Available http://www-groups.dcs.st-and. ac.uk/-history/Mathematicians/Pythagoras.html, October 23, 2000; Pythagoras. [Online] Available http://history.hanover.edu/texts/presoc/pythagor.htm, October 23, 2000; Pythagoras. [Online] Available http://www.utm.edu/research/iep/p/pythagor.htm, October 23, 2000.

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